Archive | January, 2017

Something is wrong with the media, just like the weather

16 Jan
Danforth Av. Toronto, Canada

2017 01 16 – Danforth looking west towards Pape

January 16th 2017 – Monday

 

It was beautiful in Toronto today, 3 degrees Celsius, and mostly sunny, very light breeze.  It’s not very winter-like for even the deep south of Canada in January.

But, I’ll take it, even though I don’t mind a ‘proper’ Canadian winter, like everybody else in the country is getting, even Vancouver, where traditionally, they don’t typically get a ‘proper’ Canadian winter.  I mean, I’ll continue to minimize my carbon footprint, and use my purchasing power to more support sustainability, rather than more destructive to the biosphere.  But the weather in the past twenty years here, is definitely different from the twenty that preceded them.

Like the weather, there is something ‘wrong’ about the media.

In Canada, obsessive overt control over all aspects of federal government messaging by the apex man, the previous dictator, was known legend, viewed with a mixture of trepidation and derision.

There was the Canadian general election of October 2015, when we got our first stark, universal failure of the pollsters to call the results of the election, and Big Brother was tossed, for Shiny, Happy  Little Brother, (actually the eldest) son of a Canadian political legend.

The world watched Brexit, and the presumptive outcome of the neoliberal agenda, the UK remaining in the EU, was comfortingly repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media, aligned to all of the pundits, as they regularly defamed the hapless pro-exiters.  Now I’m not suggesting that some of the characters seemed like they wouldn’t have been amiss in a traveling carnival, it was just the single-sided, single-mindedness of the ‘reporting’.

And, of course, Britain voted to leave the EU!

Then, the kicker, the U.S. general election.  Talk about a carny show, the republican party nomination campaign just couldn’t be lampooned as any worse than it was: Rubio is like an anime cartoon character, except not as good at reading the tight script as an anime voice actor.  Ben Carson was hilarious, and what could be said of Ted Cruz, a good thing, I mean?  Then the ‘democrats’ fix their campaign to nominate the only person in the world who could lose to Don Don.

The whole while, the mainstream press in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, in particular, ran completely off-the-mark, lop-sided coverage of the ‘presumptive next president-elect‘, and ridiculous, immature grade-school grade personal attacks on the other candidate, universally dismissing his chances.  In the end, The Don just out-campaigned the presumptive next president-elect.

But that didn’t put an end to the media manipulations.

We’ve all been witnessing a media coup, not so unlike the media coup that was almost successfully launched against Hugo Chavez, and successfully dethroning Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to be replaced by an even more corrupt politician (though probably leaning the right way for the neoliberal agenda proponents).

But most troubling of all, is the beating of the war-drum against the evil Soviet Union, I mean, evil Russia.  The limp reason given for the unprecedented buildup of NATO forces along the Russian border, typically, vaguely references Ukraine and Crimea.  We are NOT getting the full story on Ukraine and the Crimea in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand press.

Ukraine, the place where the ‘democratically elected’ president rejected a drastically inferior World Bank/International Monetary Fund proposal, effectively wiping out domestic policy sovereignty, and stripping workers rights, while making international corporations effectively immune from any kind of judicial action, and accepted a superior, comparatively non-invasive Russian monetary package.  But a coup d’etat was arranged by the neoliberal stalwarts, the good ole U.S.A. and Germany; a coup d’etat!   In the context of the agreement at the fall of the wall, and subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, to NOT poach former soviet states, the illegal subversion of Ukraine by EU/NATO/neoliberal agenda, the last buffer state and historical ally of Russia, factually positions ‘the West’ as the evil aggressor states.  The propaganda in the media is eerily similar to that which occurred in the lead up to the Great War (aka WWI).[i]

It’s wrong!

How come the systemic distortions of the media isn’t the news story of 2016?!

There is one guy who talks about it, Matt Taibbi, but not too loudly, he probably needs the money he gets as a reporter.

So, like the weather, the media is all fucked up.  But, unlike the media, accepting it when it happens to benefit you at the moment is dangerous.

War is bad, but the top tenth of the 1% need a BIG distraction for the masses, to hide all of the manipulating and stealing that they’ve been doing in a fog of war.  Whenever that big a distraction has been needed, in the past, there has been a war.

Get informed, and then talk about it.

We are well down the road to war, and it is NOT a good road to be on.

[i] Please see Margaret MacMillan’s excellent description of the lead up to the Great War in “The War that Ended Peace

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Gaming is taking the world down

13 Jan

2017 01 10 - Danforth looking west towards Greenwood Av2017 January 13th Friday

Toronto, Canada

It’s all about the game, or gaming; that’s what is taking the world down

It’s all around us; who knows, maybe the ability to game was a critical part in human evolution.  It exists from an individual punk, to major global affiliations systemically ‘working the systems’ across national boundaries.  It’s also known as ‘cheating’.

What I’m talking about:

Gaming: Non-Cooperative

When a system, or community, behaves according to certain rules, or codes of conduct, some, sometimes written, though mostly evolved from cultural common understanding, call it a social contract, there can be overall global gains, from which, everyone in the community benefits.

However, under these circumstances, responsibilities, having been accepted at a personal level, enable factions, or individuals, in such a de facto collective, to break their social agreement, typically secretly[i], so that they can, a. avoid their social contract commitments and still receive an equal share of the overall, communal benefits, and/or b. in any way acquire an augmented, and/or enhanced, and/or larger proportion of the communal benefits, in both cases, regardless of outcomes: c. incremental requirements from the remainder of the community members, still within the social contract, and committed to fulfilling the required responsibilities to gain the communal benefits, and/or c. the reduction in quality and/or quantity of the social benefit receipt by other, committed, and compliant community members.

It’s difficult for me to put it more succinctly.

Gaming” is normally described as decision-making theory in mathematical terms.

Wikipedia does a good job of it, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory#Cooperative_.2F_Non-cooperative [page last modified on 7 January 2017, at 15:52].

Why everyone should care:

0. Forgoing responsibilities/assuming rights, outside of agreed to terms within the community, to achieve personal advantage, associated or not, with overall lowering quality of life for members of community, may have existed within hunter-gatherer societies, but if it did, it would have been very limited, since most individuals’ survival was likely dependent upon the survival of the entire social unit

→ 1.  Within (early) urban environments/specialization of work, there would be a dramatic increase in the range of personal/sub-group advantages that could be ‘gamed’ within the larger and more complex social group, and a greater pool to defray personal decreases in personal quality of life for individuals in the social group, commensurate to the overall size and complexity of the entire social group

→ 2. Accelerating understanding of human cognitive processes and technologies for transmitting information, be it objective, and/or valid, or otherwise, over the past hundred years, and particularly with the advent of the internet age, has created fantastic capability to moderate individual perception, and thus unprecedented potential for gaming the system

→ 3. Endemic abuse of emerging (c2017) systems and processes favouring selective sub-groups within global communities has fostered a profound, widespread disillusionment and cynicism about the veracity of the social compact for a large percentage of individuals within society

→ 4. While the full range of perception management tools in wide use in society may repress the acknowledgement and internalization of the inherent fraudulence of the social contract myth, awareness of fallacies of the social contract are likely to exist in a large percentage of individuals in society

→ 5. Individuals, even where understanding exists only at a sub-conscious level, are much more likely to engage in gaming activities

→ 6.  Gaming the system has proliferated from an individual level through to institutional systemic levels throughout global societies, and now appears to be in a reifying spiral

→ Prediction: system collapse!

 

In future entries, I will endeavor to elaborate on these points.

Stayed turned!

 

endnotes——————————————————–

[i] Done secretly, I mentioned, above, in my own description of gaming, (non-cooperative), because, typically, there are defined, or undefined, consequences for breaking the social contract.  The formalization of this in our society, is officially the various so-called ‘justice systems’, across the many jurisdictions, in which they exist, in human societies, on the planet we all share.  These are formalizations of existing systems, which have existed in almost all human societies, of all time, even within the smaller social groups of hunter gather societies, which existed prior to the agricultural revolution, and the establishment of cities, and eventually states.  Some cases of breaching the social contract in Neolithic societies might have resulted in the execution of the transgressor.

Tribute to Paul Salopek’s “Slow Down, Find Humanity” Out of Eden Walk

6 Jan

originally composed: 2016 December 31 23h45 EST

The deep south of the Great White North

On the north shore of a lake that you can’t see across

 

The evening started as if often does these days, getting a short espresso at the Jet Fuel Café.

waching the street from the Jet Fuel Cafe

watching the street from the Jet Fuel Cafe

Pleasantly, for this time of year, at this place in the world, it was raining very lightly.

But, as is the custom for this somewhat arbitrary date, December 31st, it is not a normal evening, and many people seem to be obliged to go out , many of them to bars, and drink, then celebrate the changing of the designation for year, this time, from “2016” to “2017”.

For me the significant day has already passed, over a week ago, when the angle of the sunlight hitting the surface of the earth stopped getting more acute, and started getting more direct, some time around December 21st or, on account of 2016 being a Leap Year, perhaps it was December 22nd.

Instead of going out, I decided to luxuriate with a wood fire in the fireplace, and chill out with my favorite libations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

wood fire – genetically imprinted into humans

I open the flue of the fireplace, so the smoke from my joint can blow out through the chimney.

Someone sends me a text [to my ‘dumbphone’].

Because of the way it is, as I ruminate on the passing of 2016, not an easy year for me.  There is a woodfire in the fireplace, I can’t help but think of Paul Salopek, walking from Ethiopia, tracing the outward migration of man from Africa, the fast migration, from around 60,000 years ago.  He’s come from Ethiopia, the great rift valley, up through the Holy Lands, then along the silk road.  He’s at the eastern end of Uzbekistan, approaching the Kyrzicstan border, on his journey following this outward migration of humankind, across Asia, to the north east corner, across the Baring, then down the America to the southern tip of South America, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, by foot.

When I think of him passing his New Year’s Eve, now long gone, he’s well into the New Year, in Uzbekistan.  It’s cold there.  It’s not too far south of where I am here, but at high altitude in the centre of the largest landmass on the planet.  It’s cold there, and I hope he’s taking the pleasure of a wood fire.  Probably set up properly, so that the heat comes into the dwelling, and the gases, harmful to human kind, go out.

It wasn’t too long ago that I read in the news how some scientist, or group of scientists, had found that humans have evolved to tolerate the fumes from wood smoke.

It brought me back to my life-long fascination.  Raised with a fireplace, on the shores of Ontario, I’ve been around it for my whole life.  Lucky enough, according to a good custom, in my country, of sending children away to less urban places, less distractions from the actual environment, at the time I went, we were free to create wood fires no matter where we roamed.

When I stare into it, I find a strange comfort, one that really can’t be explained by the mere physics of the decomposition, through oxidization, of the wood.  How the heat flows from one solid object and is transferred to a second, to such degree that it becomes a self-sustaining oxidization process, in the heat sink that is created, and how that can be used.

As I’ve reacquainted myself with Paul’s journey over the last few days, I couldn’t help but think that this journey outward, from tropical climes, to climes of intense cold, for sustained periods of time, away from the sea, forced a much greater understanding, the development of the technology of managing the wood fire.  This is within us, the humans alive today; we evolved, so that it is hard-wired into us.

Yet, it’s still such a great luxury.  I’m taking joy from it now, knowing that it may be necessary in the foreseeable future, certainly within magnitude of time frames of this journey (of Paul’s), undertaken by this man, to cover that generic migratory path, by foot, as the cross-land migration would necessarily have been.  Though perhaps not the coastal migration, which likely would have included the development of marine technology, ultimately required for humans to reach Australia and the Americas; more on that later.

(Moving) across the continent, the knowledge of the technology of fire and the management of it, would have necessarily been acquired by our ancestors, the survivors of this trek, who, coming from a tropical climate, dead-ended at three walls of mountains, close to where Paul is now.  The people probably developed the technology, across many generations and genetic mutation(s).  I refer to work done by Spencer Wells, “The Journey of Man[1], which forms a big part of my context for understanding this journey.

After reading about (one of Paul articles) the ‘Giant ‘Arrows’ Seen From Space…’, across the now deserts south of the rapidly diminishing Aral Sea, how many years ago, these large structures have been created to herd, and easily kill, the native ungulate, like a deer, or whatever, equivalent, on that plateau/steppe.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, they were just slaughtered, and are now, probably endangered.  Paul mentioned only having seen four.  It’s too few.

I’m happy to see 2016 pass by.

…   …

The major political events of the year are certainly fascinating.  After reading Paul’s stuff, the extraordinary results of the U.S. Presidential election snapped into an intriguing analogy, in my mind.

The book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep[2], a post-nuclear war apocalyptic world has two competing philosophies; one (according to Wikipedia) “Mercerism uses “empathy boxes” to simultaneously link users to a collective virtual reality of communal suffering, centered on a martyr-like character, Wilbur Mercer, who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with crashing stones.”  The competing philosophies are never really developed in the movie, neither does Wikipedia mention the other polar philosophical force, the cult of Buster Friendly; this philosophy follows a clown, Buster Friendly, who propounds a belief that all detritus, garbage, waste, referred to as ‘kibble’, is multiplying when not being monitored, so that, eventually, the entire universe will collapse under the weight of it, so why fight it, worry about, or do anything at all to preserve the future, complete abandonment of all responsibility!

Abandonment of all responsibility seems to be a common trend in our own, so-called, ‘first world’, ‘western democracies’.  There is a segment of the population that behave as if, once having made a commercial transaction, they have paid in full for any and all responsibility, and those that just don’t believe, or have been trained by our society, to evade any responsibility that is evadable.

Not to cast too dim a light on the U.S. President-elect, there are so many people, seemingly devoted to that cause, but I do see his style as reminiscent of Buster Friendly.

Empathy enables unconditional internalized responsibility.  Unfortunately, empathic people are systemically disadvantaged in our society.  This stimulates memories of the study on brain trauma victims, who have had their capacity to empathize disabled, and how they outperform competitors in stock and bond trading so significantly, so as to undermine their viability at it as a profession!

At an individual level, de-empathification pays.  However, at a system level, where we have way, way too many people in the system, the loss of empathetic capability and associated appropriate social restrictions means that we, the humans, are systematically destroying the planet!

 

In one chapter of Wayward[3], the main character, somewhat associated with driving, like his literary icon, Jack Kerouac, is forced to travel by foot from San Jose (CR), to his house in a town about 50 kilometers away because of a civil demonstration.  He has made the trip countless times in a car; he is shocked by how different is seems, not being in a car, “The world is so different here, outside of the cage, free to move, flex, and stretch in exertion.  At the same time I feel the threatening violence of the cars, perilously close, again, and again, like shocks to the system.

 

I’m hoping everybody who reads this will take a look at the “Out of Eden Walk”, and try to better ‘get with’ an existence outside the box.

 

In the meantime, I’m sending out positive vibes to Paul, and hoping he can get the chance to enjoy a wood fire, gaze into it, appreciate the beauty of the structure which brings the warmth of it to you, and the sheer chaos of it, and feel, if not remember, the comfort of it, especially if there are times when your spirit is low, because we, the surviving humans, are hard-wired to be better.

end notes—————————————–
[1] The journey of man: a genetic odyssey - by Spencer Wells - Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8129-7146-9

[2] Philip K. Dick, 1968 United States, English, Science fiction, Doubleday, 61,237 words, OCLC: 34818133

[3] Wayward, www.deancassady.com Amongst the Vicarious Selves, is a literary fiction which tracks the journey of a man who wants to get away from the ‘first world’ society, because he feels there is something wrong with it; he spends the book trying to figure out what it is that is wrong with the emerging internet-enabled ‘global society’, and what to do about it

(Re-)Launch – If you love this world, you should follow…

1 Jan

Re-Launch “UrBlurb” – If you love this world, you should follow to this site and clue in to what’s being done in front of us all, hidden in broad daylight, and suggestions on what one might do to… deal with it.

There’s a lot of shit going on.  One of them is the complete annexation of the media by special interest groups, for the benefit of… those same special interest groups; I call them ‘special interest groups’, to differentiate from groups working to the good of self, and then everybody else, from groups working for the good of the self, and then the good of the special interest group (one should assume that it is a comparatively small minority of the whole), and then, maybe, anybody else.

The outcome is that the media is shit!

If was at least, not bad, not too long ago, but those days are over.

Now it is being used to manipulate the majority, for the benefit of competing special interest groups, which represent a small minority of the overall world population.